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Local Plan 2040 Draft Plan - Strategy options and draft policies consultation

Representation ID: 4718

Received: 01/09/2021

Representation Summary:

Whilst welcoming a flexible approach to development at Thurleigh Airfield, St Modwen Logistics consider Thurleigh Airfield should be prioritised as a location for Class B (and Class E) employment development. The ELS assessment considers 70% of the site is developable. As such, even with a flexible approach, which St Modwen Logistics welcome and support, the site is a significant source of future employment land and St Modwen Logistics respectfully request that this is taken into account in the Local Plan 2040.

Full text:

These representations are made on behalf of St Modwen Logistics. St Modwen Logistics own and manage Thurleigh Airfield, an established business park and existing allocation, classified as Protect and Enhance and subject to Policy 70 of the Local Plan 2030 (adopted January 2020).

The Employment Land Study, June 2021 (ELS) identifies Thurleigh Airfield as having potential for intensification and recommends that the site remains in the Protect and Enhance category, which St Modwen Logistics support.

However, in considering sources of future supply (Section 8), the additional capacity at Thurleigh Airfield is excluded from the listed existing employment areas that are considered to be able to accommodate future employment growth (paragraphs 8.3-8.4). This is despite the ELS going on (paragraph 8.6) to state that the site has “significant potential to accommodate further B Class employment.”

The ELS (paragraphs 8.6-8.9) identifies Thurleigh Airfield as an ‘Exception Site’ – that is, a site with a “unique offer” where growth “is likely to be driven by factors that are not part of the general economic trends” with sector specific demand more likely (paragraph 8.6), highlighting sectors linked to aerospace, motorsport, life science, recording/ rehearsal space and communications technology (paragraph 8.7). The ELS goes on (paragraph 8.9) to state that due to the site’s location - that is, relative distance to the strategic road network – it is “less attractive to general employment demand” requiring a more flexible approach in terms of uses to ensure a mix of activities that support the aims of the borough and sector specific growth.

Whilst welcoming a flexible approach to development at Thurleigh Airfield, St Modwen Logistics consider Thurleigh Airfield should be prioritised as a location for Class B (and Class E) employment development. Thurleigh Airfield is a thriving and established business destination that at present caters for automotive, communications and logistics industries, offering open storage, warehouse and industrial space with excellent access via the A6 for logistics businesses. In this respect, the ELS assessment of the site notes it as being close to the A6 with adequate direct site access. The ELS assessment considers 70% of the site is developable. As such, even with a flexible approach, which St Modwen Logistics welcome and support, the site is a significant source of future employment land and St Modwen Logistics respectfully request that this is taken into account in the Local Plan 2040.